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Monday, December 10, 2007

Letter to Ruth Kelly re Heathrow Runway 3

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Subject: Heathrow Runway 3 and Terminal 6

Dear Ms Kelly,

I have listened with absolute dismay at your statement that you intend to precede with Heathrow’s 3rd runway and 6th terminal. I have six specific points that I want you to address which follow below.

Point 1

I note that you have said carbon trading can offset the emissions from the extra flights at Heathrow. You must realise that this is a nonsense position. The IPCC report has effectively called for a cut in excess of 100% of current emissions, and even this does not guarantee avoidance of catastrophic warming. The graphs below are extracted from the report.

These two graphs need to be read together. The graph on the right hand side shows the expected stabilised temperature for various levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. The best possible scenario presented is that the greenhouse gases stabilise in the 445-490 ppm range. This would result in a best possible temperature increase of between 1.8 dec C to 3.8 deg C. Mathematical modelling suggests that an average temperature rise above 2 deg C is likely to lead to runaway climate change, so we are already at extremely high risk of catastrophic change. To achieve this best possible but still awful scenario the necessary cuts in CO2 emissions are shown on the left hand side. This disturbingly shows that not only must we completely eliminate CO2 emissions, but also we must somehow think how to extract additional CO2 out of the atmosphere. Given that we need to get our emissions below zero, carbon trading is clear nonsense. Your belief that we can somehow carbon trade our way out of the global warming implications of a third runway suggests that you have not grasped the implication of this report at all.

The implications of the IPCC report are such that we should be considering shutting Heathrow, not allowing further expansion.

Point 2

Your position on runway 3 is clearly driven by the aviation industry and its immediate supporters. I am aware that the organisation Flying Matters, (see has already started lobbying MPs to stop aviation being included within the governments climate change bill. The industry is instead arguing that an international agreement should be brought into place. However, they have been deliberately vague on explaining what the international agreements would be. Given the impossibility of putting an international agreement like this together in any meaningful way that would actually result in timely and necessary aviation cuts, it is hardly surprising that the aviation industry is campaigning for an international agreement.

Can you confirm if you believe that aviation should be in your government’s climate change bill and confirm exactly what your department’s position is on this?

Point 3

Recent Mori polls have shown that supporters of a freeze on airport expansion outnumber opponents by more than two to one (49% vs 20%). You are clearly backing the minority interests of the aviation industry and its immediate big business supporters over the interests of the wider public and scientific evidence. You are also doing this on the most contentious issue possible, were people are now scared for their future and their children’s future. You are ignoring the protesters that have so far been making their point peacefully in the streets of our cities and with events such as the Climate Camp at Heathrow last year.

If you proceed with this development, you must expect that the protests will turn increasingly bitter and violent. The police will clearly be bought in on the side of the airport and its supporters, thus compromising police neutrality at a time when the police will be coming under additional strain from the effects of climate change on the wider economy. The heavy handed policing at Heathrow during last year’s Climate Camp was seen by many as a warning of things to come.

Can you confirm what conversation and agreements have been made with the Secretary of State and what the Secretary of State’s view is on the police being effectively used as a private army in support of the aviation industry’s interests?

Point 4

The email sent in response to the petition on the 10 Downing Street web site against Heathrow claimed that the “UK now has the fastest growing railway in Europe.” Can you confirm how much CO2 emissions will be generated from this growth and where the power will come from for this expansion. It is worth considering that a Pendolino on the West Coast lines requires 5.1 Mega Watts of power. There are 53 Pendolino is the Virgin Fleet. Basic calculations show that just these trains requires approximately 600 wind turbines to provide adequate power. In addtion, there is the rest of the electrified Rail network.

Point 5

A collegue of mine is a pilot in BA and regularly flies from from Saudi Arabia to Heathrow. He tells me that the first class is often full of people coming over for shoping weekends. This is clealy a rediculous use of critical resources and a totally unnecessary contriubtion to global warming. It is strong argument that we need to reduce demand for travel.

Your statements so far on travel policies have all been concerned with providing enough supply to met demand. Can you confirm what you are doing to reduce demand.

Point 6

You have stated in your letters to MPs that a consultation period will be initated and you have a web site for consultation.

Can you confirm the point of this. You have already stated that you intend to proceed with the third runway and the policies of your departments are completely ignoring all the available science.

I look forward to your reply addressing specifically each of the points above.

Yours sincerely

Kevin Lister


David Drew MP,
Flying Matters
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